Most construction projects start with careful planning and the gathering of supplies that will be needed to start the project. While taking the time to plan is important, students and staff at Frances Kelsey Secondary took a different approach. The gathering took a back seat to the more important process of laying the foundations of incredible relationships that prepared the outdoor learning space project, and themselves, for success and solidified this project as a staple for students and staff alike
Frances Kelsey’s Indigenous Support Worker, and Red-Seal Carpenter, Warren Mearns, turned his 40-years of construction experience, and dedication to students of all stripes into a project that saw youth from throughout the school connect in a meaningful way to the work, to each other, and to the creation of new student spaces. Working closely with Sonia Van Hell, the Indigenous Education teacher at the school, two groups of students were brought together to learn from Warren’s expertise as he helped guide the students in the creation of a large shelter and beautiful seating areas that now adorn in the outdoor open areas at the school.
Working hand in hand the students learned from Warren and about each other. New friendships, built on trust and hard work, formed as students measured, cut, framed, poured and finished the shelter and seating areas. From the construction of concrete forms to attaching the decking material, students found a sense of pride in the work, and themselves, and they explored new possibilities for their futures as these projects became reality.
It was more than nails, screws, and glue, that came together to create these beautiful new student spaces over the last year, it was the forming of life-changing relationships that are the true legacy of this project.
Now, a few months in to the new school year, the students relayed how proud they are of their creations and how awesome it is to see others in the school enjoying their handiwork. The benches remain and the friendships continue as the students turn their eyes to new projects on the grounds and new possibilities in their futures.